Service design trend 1/5: the employee experience

17 Aug 2018

5 min read

In our previous blog we summarized the 5 most important new applications of service design. In the coming weeks we will take a closer look at these applications. We kick off with application 1: the employee experience.

Organizations can have different reasons to get started with employee experience. The current working method and culture may no longer be in line with the brand values that have been drawn up, or there may be signs of dissatisfied people in the workplace. As an employer, are you doing what you promise as a brand? Whatever the exact reason, it is clear that more and more companies see the importance of developing a strong company culture that radiates to customers and future employees. Engaged personnel are, after all, a condition for the success of an organization. With a team of service designers, we are now helping several large organizations to shape their EX. We consider the following principles to be crucial in this regard.

More than HR: also involve facility, IT and strategy

Jacob Morgan states in his book The Employee Experience Advantage that three aspects are important in creating an optimal EX: the company culture, the physical work environment and the technology. In addition, you naturally also want employees to believe in your company vision. At the start of an EX process, we therefore, in consultation with the organization, put together a core group with representatives from the departments responsible for this, such as HR, facility management, IT and brand / strategy. This core group must ensure that the advice that emerges from the process is actually implemented. Involving people from different departments in one common goal is typically an approach that fits the service design methodology. The employee must be approached holistically and not have to go through different ‘counters’ to be able to do his job. This approach is therefore no different than for customers.

“The employee must be approached holistically and not have to go through different ‘hoops’ to be able to do their job.”

Look at the entire employee lifecycle

Employee experience is about more than just the on-boarding journey in the first month. The employee lifecycle contains all the phases that an employee goes through throughout his career at an organization. In general, we distinguish four parts: orientation and applying, joining and onboarding, working and developing and even leaving employment. For each component, we map out which specific activities are associated with each organisation. Together with the core team, we list the employee needs per phase (based on brand pillars). The underlying question is: what do we as an organization actually want an employee to experience? And how do we increase his/her effectiveness?

“Employee experience is about more than just the on-boarding journey in the first month.”

Map the employee experience holistically

To validate and test these employee needs, we interview people who are in different phases in this employee lifecycle. We use these interviews to check on the one hand whether it is true that they have these needs and on the other hand whether those needs are being met. Take a company that has unburdening customers as an important brand value: it is then important that employees also feel unburdened. A possible pain point may be that people are eager to promote flexible workplaces, but that managers do not encourage it or that IT does not provide the mobile resources to support it. Here too, a holistic approach is crucial, so that a total picture is created across disciplines.

The critical eye of an external party helps here. As an organization it can be difficult to assess how ‘good’ you are for your employees. Moreover, those employees will express themselves more freely if they sit at the table with an external, disinterested party. After all, their feedback is directly about the services that their colleagues provide. In this way we bring out all pain and improvement points for every moment of the employee lifecycle. Sometimes it involves dozens of points for improvement: we then bundle these into a number of main themes, with which we bridge the gap from brand pillars to EX pillars.

Come up with solutions in co-creation with employees

After collecting all points for improvement and drawing up the EX pillars, try to come up with concept solutions with the core group. These concept solutions are then tested in a number of sessions with employees. For example, we actively involve them to develop the organization towards the desired EX and we immediately test someone’s ideal work ‘environment’.

Form a joint ambition and ensure a mandate

Even after testing the solutions, it remains important as a department not to go back into your HR or IT box, but to work on joint employee scenarios in order to form a joint ambition. Only by working ‘horizontal’ can the entire employee lifecycle be tackled integrally. If each department only looks at its own points, there is a good chance that people will fall back on partial solutions that do not improve the existing situation. Suppose an organization focuses on employee health. FM can then arrange all kinds of sports facilities, but this has little effect if the corporate culture does not encourage sports during the lunch break – HR must take care of that. A convinced board helps with the successful joint introduction of the solutions: therefore provide a core group with a mandate and prepare the organization for the new situation.

“Realizing the optimal customer experience starts with the right mindset and commitment of your own staff.”

The ultimate employee experience

At the end of such an Employee Experience trajectory, you have a clear picture of your own organizational culture, what it looks like now and how you envision it. You know whether you are doing what you promise and what you need to arrange in order to fulfill those promises. Moreover, you are much more aware of the norms and values you expect from your employees and what kind of people you need to create your ideal work culture and working environment. This way you also know much better what kind of people you want to attract in the future. Ultimately, all these insights contribute to improving the employee experience and ultimately the customer experience. Because realizing the optimal customer experience starts with the right mindset and commitment of your own staff.

Are you concerned with the employee experience within your organization? Then take a look at the range of our Academy or go directly to the Optimizing Employee Experience training.

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